Sixers lose to Wizards in first of hopefully many respectable losses this season

Sixers lose to Wizards in first of hopefully many respectable losses this season

The Golden State loss was embarrassing. Half-hearted offense, quarter-hearted defense, giving up open looks and highlight plays and letting eight-year Sixer Andre Iguodala have arguably his best-ever game on the Wells Fargo Center court wearing another team's jersey...not so good, Al. We want to lose this year, sure, but we don't want to have to lose like that.

Last night, I'd say, was infinitely preferable. Yes, they failed to kill off the ailing Washington Wizards, and yes, they probably could have gotten a hand up on defense or a body back in transition a couple more times than they did--giving up 116 points on your home floor is rarely totally justifiable--but they at least fought back throughout, kept it close for at least three quarters, and ultimately let themselves get beat by a more talented team. In the end, it's all good.

John Wall--the boy can ball. After an exceptional first half against the Sixers last week, the former #1 overall pick (and ostensible Evan Turner rival of sorts) played four strong quarters tonight against the Liberty Ballers, flashing the blinding speed and excellent drive-and-dish instincts that make him so spellbinding in the open court, but also showcasing a shooting stroke rarely seen across his first three seasons in the league, hitting 5-8 from downtown, easily his career high in threes for a game. (For reference, Wall went 3-42 from deep for the entire 2011-'12 season.)

All that said, he didn't outshine Evan Turner all that badly this time. Unlike most of their matchups, in which it's been abundantly clear who went #1 overall in 2010 and who went #2, Evan was equally on his game tonight, showcasing his much-improved mid-range game and not forcing matters in the half-court, ending with 24 points (on sparkling 9-13 shooting, including six free throw attempts and even his first three-pointer of the season), seven rebounds and four assists, with just one turnover. Evan is now shooting a mind-blowing (and likely unsustainable) 61% from two-point range this season, showing just how much he's improved his overall shot selection in Brett Brown's offense.

Evan's production last night was mostly matched by Spencer Hawes, who continued his strong start to the season with 23 points (on 9-16 shooting) with 13 points, five assists and a couple blocks--though he also chipped in six TO's, at least two or three of which were of the worst kind of head-smacking Hawesian quality. Michael Carter-Williams similarly put up big numbers, including 19 points, seven assists and five boards, but his shot selection was a little suspect at times, and he needed 21 attempts for his 19 points.

Perhaps the best sign of the night for the Sixers was that James Anderson finally got himself off the schneid a little, hitting a couple threes and scoring 13 points total, easily his best production in a Sixers game this season, amidst not particularly stiff competition. Really, of the Sixers' main offensive cogs, the only one who couldn't really find a groove last night was previous Wizard-killer Thaddeus Young, who struggled through a 3-11 night and couldn't seem to find himself any room to sneak in around the basket, getting badly outmuscled on both ends by the Washington frontcourt of Nene and Marcin Gortat.

And really, it wasn't the offense that failed the Sixers tonight, it was the defense. Slow rotations, missed assignments and failures to get back in transition were the biggest culprits--though admittedly, much of the latter had to do with the Sixers' 20 turnovers on the evening, which started far too many easy looks back the other way. Seven Wizards scored in double figures, which probably means that the defensive blame is across-the-board for the Sixers for this one.

But whatever. Plenty of teaching points for Brett Brown in this one, and plenty of Big Macs for the folks in attendance. It was a fun game to watch, it further inflated the stats of eventual trade targets Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes, and in the end, we're one loss closer to contending for Wiggins, Randle and Parker. It's all love, and we can only hope for more of the same for the rest of the season.

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more during Boston's seven-run seventh inning on Wednesday night and the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 9-4 for their third straight victory.

Chris Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season. He allowed three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings and received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than in any previous game this season.

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks -- two intentional -- and a wild pitch without retiring a batter. Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak (see full recap).

Ellsbury hurt as Yankees blank Royals
NEW YORK -- Helped by a great first-inning catch that forced center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the game with a concussion and sprained neck, Luis Severino won for the first time in a month and led the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 3-0 on Wednesday night.

On the first pitch of the game, Ellsbury sprinted 107 feet and raised his glove above his head to catch Alcides Escobar's fly. Ellsbury's head jarred into the wall as the ball landed in his glove, and he crumpled to the field.

Ellsbury was checked by manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and remained in the game, then was replaced by Aaron Hicks starting the second.

Didi Gregorius homered against Jason Hammel (1-6) leading off the third inning, Gregorius' seventh hit in a span of 12 at-bats.

His fastball reaching 99 mph, Severino (3-2) allowed four hits over eight innings, struck out seven, walked one and threw a career-high 114 pitches.

Dellin Betances struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his fourth save (see full recap).

Rendon, Roark help Nationals beat Mariners
WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer for his eighth of the season, Tanner Roark allowed a run over seven innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Rendon has three homers and eight RBIs in the Nationals' two victories to open this three-game series.

Roark (4-2) completed seven innings for the first time in seven starts and held the Mariners to 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Mariners rookie Sam Gaviglio (0-1) allowed all five runs -- one earned -- over six innings as the Mariners lost their fifth straight.

Seattle's Robinson Cano went 3 for 4, including an RBI single and a double that center fielder Michael Taylor's glove prevented from being a home run.

Rendon had gone 12 games without an RBI before the series. But after driving in five runs Tuesday, he drove in three more to help Washington grab a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Rockies 7, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Rockies 7, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' miserable May continued in a 7-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.

The Phillies were out-hit, 11-1, over the first seven innings.

The Rockies hit for the cycle in the third inning on their way to scoring seven times against Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Phillies starting pitchers have an ERA of 6.39 in the month of May, second worst in baseball in that time.

The Phillies have lost five in a row, 9 of 10 and 20 of their last 24 games. They have the fewest wins in baseball at 15-29.

The Rockies lead the National League at 31-17. They go for a four-game sweep on Thursday. They have outscored the Phillies 23-5 in the first three games of the series.

The Phillies have scored just five runs in their last four games.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson allowed eight baserunners on six hits and two walks in the Rockies' seven-run third inning. He gave up a double, a triple, a homer and three singles in the frame. The homer was a three-run shot by Carlos Gonzalez on a 2-1 changeup.

Hellickson is 5-2 with a 4.28 ERA in 10 starts this season. He went went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. His ERA in five starts in May is 7.30.

Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood, who entered the game with a 5.09 ERA, pitched seven shutout innings and gave up just one hit. He walked four and struck out eight.

Rockies starting pitchers have pitched 20 innings in this series and given up just two runs.

Bullpen report
Adam Morgan pitched three scoreless innings for the Phillies.

Mike Dunn gave up two runs in the eighth to lose Colorado's shutout bid.

At the plate
The Phils went hitless until Andrew Knapp singled with two outs in the fifth. They entered the bottom of the eighth inning with just one hit. They got two hits in the inning, including a two-run homer from Michael Saunders, and finished the game with three.

Charlie Blackmon did not hit a home run — he entered with seven in his previous five games at Citizens Bank Park — but he did have a two-run single in the third. Gonzalez's three-run homer was the big blow.

In the field
The Phillies made an error and had a runner picked off in the first inning. Catcher Knapp threw out a would-be base stealer in the first inning.

Rehab road
Howie Kendrick started a minor-league rehab assignment with Triple A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday night. He is expected to play four games and get time in left field and at first and third base. His work at third base could affect Maikel Franco, who was benched again Wednesday night (see story).

Roster move
Morgan was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after the game. A corresponding roster move will be made Thursday.

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday afternoon. Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.98) pitches for the Phillies against Colorado lefty Tyler Anderson (3-4, 6.00).